Gossip Girl: Controversial Episode Skimps on Controversy

Gossip Girl 3.9 overlayMy first experience with “Gossip Girllast week did not leave me signing off with XOXO, but everything deserves a second chance. Luckily for me, this is the midst of November sweeps and the show’s producers are pulling out all the stops to bring in viewers with none other than . . . a threesome! Yes, you read that right and let me assure you that nothing screams class like a well publicized and purposely controversial threesome. As much as I’d like to devote this entire review to discussing the racy deed, it actually didn’t occur until about 47 minutes into the episode and had maybe a minute’s worth of screen-time so there really isn’t much to say except speculation on the consequences, but more on that later.

Most of this episode dealt with the annual social event called Cotillion where the city’s brightest young heiresses get glammed up to make their debutant entrance to the New York City social scene with the goal of being crowned Queen. Jenny (Taylor Momsen) is particularly panicked about the whole thing being from Brooklyn (gasp!) and without an escort (God forbid!). She has her eye on one guy in particular and makes it her goal to snag him through coaching from Blair; plotting with her step brother, Eric (Connor Paolo); and help from the “plain” girl who just feels lucky to get noticed. All of these relationships and plans blow up and when all is said and done poor Eric is dumped by his boyfriend for his actions and Jenny reigns triumphant.

I fully realize that the reason some people like this show is how ridiculous and over-the-top these characters are, but I can’t easily get past how seriously they take things like the Cotillion gala. There may in fact be real, live people who act this way about such trivial things and it’s somewhat excusable for the teenage characters but when the parents start making exasperated gasps with poorly acted looks of concern at the turn of events, believability goes out the window. This type of material is ripe for parody and when a show doesn’t have the brains to take advantage of that I personally have a hard time accepting anything else.

Not everything this week was a poorly written disaster though. My opinion of Blair was much improved this week after her massively superficial episode last week. She got to show a little warmth this time around as she and Serena (whose storyline with Tripp Vanderbilt is getting interesting) try to mend fences after being trapped in an elevator by Chuck. My opinion of him hasn’t changed a bit though. In fact, I think from now on I’ll refer to him as Squints for the eternal look of constipation on his face in every scene that he is in. I honestly don’t know how he has this job.

And then of course, there is the threesome. It comes about when Olivia (Hilary Duff) finds out she has to return to her acting career for the series of films that made her famous so Dan and Vanessa try to show her what college is truly like by completing a list of “15 Things To Do Before Graduating” article before she leaves. After some binge drinking we learn that Ms. Duff can act drunk about as well as she can act any other mood, which isn’t good if you’ve been keeping score. But her character is adamant to complete the list, which ends with a threesome. The three of them share a few looks, each kiss each other, and then naturally the show cuts to commercial with only a brief scene at the end showing them all sound asleep. A surprise at the very end hints at drama to come but if you didn’t expect that you probably haven’t realized by now that soap opera-esque drama is all this show has to keep it alive. To ask for depth or believable characters would obviously be asking too much.

For another take on this episode, check out Can You Say Setup? by Trisha Huntsman.

Season 3, Episode 9: They Shoot Humphreys, Don’t They? (originally aired November 9, 2009)

For more on Gossip Girl, click here.

Mondays at 8/7C, The CW

Photographs courtesy of The CW, Giovanni Rufino

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